Ex vivo immune profiling in patient blood enables quantification of innate immune effector functions.
*equal contribution #corresponding author
The assessment of a patient's immune function is critical in many clinical situations. In complex clinical immune dysfunction like sepsis, which results from a loss of immune homeostasis due to microbial infection, a plethora of pro- and anti-inflammatory stimuli may occur consecutively or simultaneously. Thus, any immunomodulatory therapy would require in-depth knowledge of an individual patient's immune status at a given time. Whereas lab-based immune profiling often relies solely on quantification of cell numbers, we used an ex vivo whole-blood infection model in combination with biomathematical modeling to quantify functional parameters of innate immune cells in blood from patients undergoing cardiac surgery. These patients experience a well-characterized inflammatory insult, which results in mitigation of the pathogen-specific response patterns towards Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans that are characteristic of healthy people and our patients at baseline. This not only interferes with the elimination of these pathogens from blood, but also selectively augments the escape of C. albicans from phagocytosis. In summary, our model could serve as a valuable functional immune assay for recording and evaluating innate responses to infection.